NEW ORLEANS (CN) - Ruling in favor of Transocean and BP, a federal judge on Thursday dismissed third-party environmental claims in a giant pleading bundle in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill litigation, saying the fact that the oil flow has stopped makes those lawsuits irrelevant.
"The injunction at this stage would be useless, as not only is there no ongoing release from the well, but there is also no viable offshore facility from which any release could possibly occur," U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier wrote. "The Macondo well is dead, and what remains of the Deepwater Horizon vessel is on the ocean floor, where it capsized and sank in 5,000 feet of water.
"Moreover, BP and the agencies comprising the Unified Area Command have been and are cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico. An injury is not redressable by a citizen suit when the injury is already being addressed."
Judge Barbier is overseeing the massive, consolidated oil spill litigation, which has been divided into "bundles," based upon the nature of the claims.
In instances where claims in the D1 bundle pertain to how the oil is being cleaned up, Barbier ruled that even if he allowed those claims to go forward, the claimants are not directly involved in the cleanup, so a ruling in their favor would not affect how the cleanup is progressing.
"The D1 defendants do not unilaterally direct the cleanup activities in the Gulf; such activities have been under the control of the National Incident Commander, Federal on-Scene Coordinator, Unified Area Command, and the Coast Guard in cooperation with other federal agencies. Thus, plaintiffs cannot show that an order from this court would actually resolve any potential deficiency in the ongoing cleanup," Barbier wrote.
"In order to prevail on their claims for injunctive relief, plaintiffs must demonstrate an ongoing violation of various statutes on which plaintiffs' claims for relief is based. Because the Macondo well is dead and is no longer discharging oil, plaintiffs' only claims are confined to seeking environmental citizen suit injunctive relief of a prospective nature to stop noncompliance in the form of a continued release of oil. Thus, the citizen suit claims brought by the plaintiffs are moot, because no future-orientated injunction can provide any meaningful relief for plaintiffs in terms of stopping discharges that already concluded in mid-July 2010."